Nursery and kindergarten is where most children receive their first formal introduction to the vast world of mathematics. How well your child understands these basic mathematical concepts often determines future success in the subject. Therefore, it is worth your time to consciously make math a part of your daily life.
Here are some ideas that you can try. They will help improve your child’s number sense and will not require extra effort or great expense on your part:
Reading number plates. When you have stopped at a red light, ask your four-year-old to read out the number plates of the vehicles parked around you. If your child enjoys the game, you can extend this to when your car is moving. This will force them to read faster. Remember that it might take time for them to read out all the numbers on a plate, and it does not matter if they cannot finish. They will quickly get faster at it.
Playing with number magnets. Number magnets are easily available in all toy stores. Put them up on your refrigerator and as you are cooking, keep your child busy by asking them to arrange the numbers in order, or asking them to show you a number magnet that you ask for. As they master their numbers from 1 to 10, ask them to put together two magnets to make numbers like 12, 14, etc.
Counting as you shop. Have your child help you when you shop. Ask them to put 10 potatoes in your basket or count the carrots as you put away your shopping. You can use this chance to teach them concepts like grouping – put all the onions in one pile, all the beans in another, etc.
Family game night. Bring the family together to play board games like Snakes and Ladders or Ludo. Basic, uncomplicated board games are a great way for your child to practice counting. Board games also give your impatient little four-year-old a chance to practice taking turns and wait patiently.
Reading number books. There are a number of wonderful children’s picture books that encourage number sense, like Dr. Seuss’s Ten Apples Up on Top, or any number of books that you can find at your local bookstore.
Watching and singing along to number songs and videos on YouTube and TV. Young children’s TV channels and YouTube have a lot of educational content directed towards young children. There are many songs and videos where their favourite cartoon characters are singing about numbers and counting. Watch with them and sing along to encourage your child’s full participation.
Early math literacy lays a strong and sturdy foundation for your child’s future in math. As your child grows confident with numbers you can introduce them to more numbers, concepts of adding or taking away, grouping, etc without any need for workbooks or formal lessons. Math, then, becomes fun and intuitive and when encountered in a classroom, your child will feel relaxed and well equipped.